Song of the Day #2,122: ‘Beyond Belief’ – Elvis Costello

costello_uselessMy first real exposure to Elvis Costello was through two albums I still consider his best — King of America and Imperial Bedroom.

Those two albums contain a wealth of styles and moods, from the laid back country crooning and rockabilly of the former to the Beatles-esque menagerie of the latter. They both serve as perfect vehicles for Costello’s brilliant lyrical word salad and as entry points go, I couldn’t have been blessed with better ones.

I knew I wanted a Costello song for my desert island picks and it seemed only fitting that it should come from one of these records.

‘Beyond Belief’ quickly emerged as the right selection. In its released form (featured as my 247th Song of the Day), it has a propulsive, other-worldly energy and sound perfectly complimented by one of Costello’s best vocal performances.

But even here, in a solo acoustic reading, it’s dense, creepy and apocalyptic. And wonderful.

History repeats the old conceits
The glib replies the same defeats
Keep your finger on important issues
With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues
I’m just the oily slick
On the windup world of the nervous tick
In a very fashionable hovel

I hang around dying to be tortured
You’ll never be alone in the bone orchard
This battle with the bottle is nothing so novel

So in this almost empty gin palace
Through a two-way looking glass
You see your Alice

You know she has no sense
For all your jealousy
In a sense she still smiles very sweetly

Charged with insults and flattery
Her body moves with malice
Do you have to be so cruel to be callous?

And now you find you fit this identikit completely
You say you have no secrets
And then leave discreetly

I might make it California’s fault
Be locked in Geneva’s deepest vault
Just like the canals of Mars and the great barrier reef
I come to you beyond belief

My hands were clammy and cunning
She’s been suitably stunning
But I know there’s not a hope in Hades
All the laddies cat call and wolf whistle
So-called gentlemen and ladies
Dog fight like rose and thistle

I’ve got a feeling
I’m going to get a lot of grief
Once this seemed so appealing
Now I am beyond belief

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,122: ‘Beyond Belief’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana says:

    Again, you will get no disagreement or argument from me regarding this choice. While this song may not be my number one favorite Costello song, and therefore not my desert island pick, it certainly ranks in my top ten.

  2. Amy says:

    This might just be my Costello pick for many of the reasons you cite above. And you’re welcome for providing such a worthy entry point to this wonderful artist! 🙂

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